2015 - All Press Releases

China leading the world for growth in high-quality science output, Nature Index shows

Traditional strongholds of US and Japan experience a notable drop in their research output

Shanghai, 16 December

China's high quality research output grew 37% from 2012 to 2014, according to new analysis of Nature Index data. The United States saw a 4% drop over this period in the same Nature Index metric (weighted fractional count; WFC).*

The Nature Index 2015 China, publishing as a supplement to Nature on 17 December, shows China's total contribution to high-quality science has risen to become the second largest in the world, surpassed only by the United States.

"Clearly China is catching up to the US and is already a high-quality scientific powerhouse. The country's ever-increasing R&D budgets fuelled by its burgeoning economy since the early 1980s have driven this pattern," said Dr. Nick Campbell, Executive Editor, Nature. "The expansion in China's higher education system and improvements in the quality and quantity of its scientific workforce are key factors in delivering this impressive return on investment."

While chemistry and physical sciences are prominent in China's Nature Index contribution, accounting for 61% and 30% of its total WFC respectively, the life sciences contribution is growing almost as rapidly (30% increase from 2012 to 2014).

China's ten most productive cities in the Nature Index by WFC in 2014 are Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Hefei, Changchun, Hong Kong, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Tianjin. They made a combined contribution of 70.4% of China's WFC.

Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing remain the dominant scientific centres. Beijing has the highest number of institutions contributing to the Nature Index in China and the city is particularly strong in chemistry and physical sciences. Shanghai has less than half the total number of institutions of Beijing in the index, but its top 10 are as strong as the capital's top 10. Like Shanghai, almost 60% of Nanjing's output in the Nature Index is in chemistry. Nanjing University contributed more than half of the city's overall 2014 output in the index.

Between 2012 and 2014, Xi'an, Chengdu and Hangzhou experienced some of the fastest WFC growth rate, largely driven by chemistry. Xi'an in particular experienced an exceptional rise in the relative increase of its WFC of 142%, while Chengdu and Hangzhou rose 78% and 55% respectively.

The Nature Index data also identifies Shenzhen, Beijing and Wuhan as China's industrial research powerhouses, home to corporations making a significant contribution to research, especially in cutting-edge life sciences. Shenzhen in particular has experienced a remarkable transformation into a research-based industry hub and companies based there now account for almost half of the country's international patent filings. Three Chinese cities stand out for their collaborative orientation: while Hong Kong and Hefei institutions have formed a record number of partnerships with their international peers. Tianjin scientists have focused on forging local links, mainly between Nankai and Tianjin universities.China's top five university contributors are Peking University, Nanjing University, Tsinghua University, University of Science and Technology of China, and Zhejiang University.More information about the Nature Index is available at: www.natureindex.com

For more information contact
Zhang Li 
Corporate Communications Manager, Greater China
T: +86 21 2422 5047
E: li.zhang@nature.com


First launched in November 2014, articles included in the Nature Index are drawn from 68 natural science journals, which were selected by two independent panels of active scientists, chaired by Professor John Morton (University College London) and Dr Yin-Biao Sun (Kings College, London).Responses to a large-scale survey were used to validate the selections. Springer Nature estimate that these 68 journals account for about 30% of total citations to natural science journals.A rolling 12-month snapshot of data from the Nature Index is openly available under a Creative Commons license at natureindex.com, so that users can analyse scientific research outputs themselves. On the index website, an institution's output of articles can be viewed across the 12-month data window and by broad subject area. International and domestic collaborations are also shown for each institution.
*The Nature Index uses three measures to track affiliation data for individuals:• Article count (AC) - A country or institution is given an AC of 1 for each article that has at least one author from that country or institution. This is the case whether an article has one or a hundred authors, and it means that the same article can contribute to the AC of multiple countries or institutions.• Fractional Count (FC) - FC takes into account the relative contribution of each author to an article. The total FC available per paper is 1, and this is shared between all authors under the assumption that each contributed equally. For instance, a paper with 10 authors means that each author receives an FC of 0.1. For authors who have worked with joint affiliations, the individual FC is then split equally between each affiliation• Weighted Fractional Count (WFC) - applies a weighting to the FC in order to adjust for the overrepresentation of papers from astronomy and astrophysics. The four journals in these disciplines publish about 50% of all papers in international journals in this field — approximately five times the equivalent figures for other fields. Therefore, although the data for astronomy and astrophysics are compiled in exactly the same way as for all other disciplines, articles from these journals are assigned one-fifth the weight of other articles.

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